April 21, 2016 at City Winery Chicago in Chicago.


To understand Fort Frances’ “Alio” — pronounced ah-low — you have to start with a cover of a 1991 Will Smith song. Three years ago, the Chicago-based trio parted ways with their indie rock roots to record their own take on the hip hop classic “Summertime.” With a smooth bed of 808s and hand claps, the song made the rounds on lists of must-download summer songs and landed the band on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0.

But the American reception to the song paled in comparison to an unlikely spot on the map: Lithuania. While the band continued to wage the American DIY-band battle for attention at small club shows around the US, the situation was much different in the former member of the USSR. The band had become a household name, and the song’s accompanying video had racked up more than one million views. “We started to get all these messages from fans in Eastern Europe about how much they loved the song,” lead singer David McMillin says. “We really didn’t think that we were catching on somewhere halfway around the world.”

The crunchy guitar-monies layered behind the falsetto phrasing of “Take the Wheel”, the marimba-sub synth combo of “Everything is Starting to Make Sense”, the frantic pacing of “The Light Years” — this cast of songs puts the spotlight on a band that is growing increasingly comfortable with loosening its roots in the past. “Memories are not meant to be kept inside a frame, so before we drive out to the coast tonight, I will drive myself insane,” McMillin sings on lead single “Building A Wall.”

“Over the past year, I feel like we’ve taken some big steps for the band,” McMillin says. “The time overseas helped us open the door to welcome a world of new possibilities.” When it came time to choose a title the album, the choice was clear. “Alio” is Lithuanian for hello.

Address: 1200 W Randolph St, Chicago
Fort Frances with special guest We/Or/Me - 4/21

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